We were first introduced to Díno Smokes back in January 2018 where we learned about his sound, influences and then upcoming debut album, Since ’98. The Newport News, Virginia producer/artist has made tremendous strides in his music career that are worth reflecting upon.
The last time we sat down was about a year ago and Since ‘98 was about to be released. Let’s take a walk down memory lane. Remind viewers of what that project meant for you.
It’s like that first bite of breakfast you get! Or the pregame before the party! It set the tone for my sound and me as an artist. Though I’m still evolving, Since ‘98 is a classic to me. It displayed my ability to be versatile and express myself.
Speaking of your ability and versatility, you opened up for Megan Thee Stallion! How did that opportunity come about?
So every spring semester at Norfolk State University there’s a week called Spartan Fest. It’s similar to homecoming but just in the spring. They throw a concert every time so on this occasion Norfolk State gave locals and students the chance to open up for Meg Thee Stallion and G Herbo along with Reaction Band! I was fortunate enough to make it past auditions and proceed along with nine other performers to open up for these artists.
How was the overall experience with auditioning, support from peers and ultimately you performing?
Man! There was definitely some competition! A lot of energy in those audition performances. There were a couple people who stood out to me stage presence wise. I thought there was going to be a bigger crowd but it was more intimate. After I saw the first bit of auditions I was a bit nervous about my performance because of the hype people were bringing but the judges were loving my stage presence, delivery and crowd reaction. Performing at the concert was a goal I had since freshman year. I was shocked to see over 1,200 people rocking with me and enjoying my music! The love was definitely felt all around. I think hearing my records on that sound system is really what set it off for me!
Did you learn anything about yourself after this experience?
I tend to have a social awkwardness from time to time but I make the best of it with jokes and being myself. For the most part I learned that I have a good sense of crowd control.
You seem to always be on the move. You dropped a visual to PatentLeatherCoach and a single entitled, Anxious. What more can we anticipate?
Keep an eye for a project from a collective called The Laureate! Keep two eyes open for two more solo projects from me, one titled The Ignor-Rant. The other one is yet to be finalized for the name. I also have some collaboration projects coming up as well. You know how Metro Boomin executively produces albums with artists? That’s what I’m doing.
What do you feel will set these upcoming bodies of work apart from your later projects? Is there an intentional shift?
Every project has its own narrative. For instance, The Ignor-Rant is a story of adolescence. A time when I was most ignorant and a know-it-all.
Art imitates life, you can’t create without living.
That’s an interesting approach to your upcoming work. It’s great to hear that you have a vision for what’s to come. While you’re in this creative process, what keeps you grounded? Do you ever have moments where it’s difficult to create?
My love for art as a whole keeps me leveled. Every artist has a time period where they don’t create and they live life. Art imitates life, you can’t create without living. When I’m not creating I’m studying or researching astrology and astronomy. Expanding my mind to new things and being optimistic.
And would you say this translates into your music?
Most definitely! I’m curious, reflective and inspired by life… the world!
We’re getting to know Díno the artist. What about the producer? Shed light on your process and sound.
Personally I think I’m much more versatile as a producer than an artist. But at the same time my production allows my artistry to thrive and reach new levels because I don’t limit myself. I look for sounds that catch me off guard, something unique but with a bounce.
What are some challenges and wins you’ve encountered as a producer?
The biggest thing for me are melodies. I love chords and melodies. When I’m producing everything has to be in sync. The bass, the chords, my drums and my lyrics all have to be in sync. I pour emotion into my music so I want the same from my beats.
We all love to dream. Those dreams then become our reality when work and dedication are added to the equation. You’re on stage for a major performance with a sold out crowd. Describe this show!
The energy of it all is surreal! Being backstage gave it that authenticity. I mean, I’m seeing performers rehearsing as the show is going on. The crowd looks amazing! It’s a different feeling being behind the barricade in front the stage. It honestly feels like its own little venue. I think I am more excited to see the other performers more than they are to see me. It’s really all love! I didn’t think I was going to receive as much love and crowd reaction as I did. For a moment it felt like the whole stadium was screaming and shouting. It hit my heart honestly. To see so many people connecting and vibing to my music… that’s something I look forward to and I don’t even intend for it to be like that when I’m creating.